Monday, April 30, 2007

Iron Sharpens Iron

Dear Lady discusses how real friends tell others the truth and are glad to receive instruction when spoken lovingly. Actually, I like this blog. It looks to me like she is giving good advice to those who will hear about how accountability to one another will sound between friends. Christians who are trained in these principles are much more likely to accept a correction from their brothers & sisters in Christ, especially those clearly trying to act in Christ at the time

Me, I have been that kind of friend & heard out that kind of friend.

I cannot help but note that very truthful words, though they needed to be spoken, and were spoken with love, just inspires anger unless the person is walking very closely indeed with Christ (even if they have had much proof of your love for a long time). Heck, we even do this in our families. No matter how nicely your mom/bro/sister/hubby/cousin says it, because nobody likes to be caught in a failing. Somehow we all seem to think that naming it out loud makes the error or sin worse in some way. Actually facing it gives the opportunity to fix things as nothing else will.

God knows this much better than any human. He ALWAYS speaks in love and truth, and yet so many spurn His friendship, so many deafen themselves from even the gentlest correction. In God's case, it is kindness to reprove us now, even painfully, before it affects us eternally. He has given us free will, a beautiful world in which to express ourselves, though sadly our cumulative sins have made it a very rough place to be right now. Yet, God, the best friend of all is rejected & blamed by most.

As we seek to represent Christ in this world, we may be told to say things we know will not have favor. We must speak if we would obey God, and if we would truly love these friends. I have tried flavoring such speeches with as much praise & love as I could honestly add, but even this didn't always help. If anything, it seemed to add an odd emotional strain, so I quit trying to 'balance' my words this way. I'll just pray to say what I should as wellas I can and let the chips fall where they may.

I have seen relationships end because someone did speak the truth in love, kinda shocked at the direction a beloved friend seemed to have chosen. Sometimes you find out then they weren't the believer you thought they were.

I have since realized that the carnally-minded take words of loving reproof as proof, instead, that you hate and judge them. That's how they would have meant it. They are sure that if you said something so strong to their face you must be saying much worse behind the scenes & thereafter they will war against you (often behind the scenes). Be warned! Pray first! Sometimes God will tell us to be silent where we thought we should have spoken. When we talk then anyway, we may depart from the best path for ourselves & others.

[I think this is why Christ told some people he healed to be quiet about it while others were commended when they gave God the glory everywhere possible. Being Christ, he knew what the results in each case would be.]

Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

The wise love instruction, but we here on Earth are mostly fools. Christians are only reformed fools

Psalms 19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
Consider what they said about Christ among his own people? We are not better than our Master.

But sometimes those words of 'loving reproof' aren't so blessed. Sometimes we don't pray about what we say. Sometimes it is a case of crying "peace, peace" when there is no peace, when a real injury is being passed over lightly. People in positions of authority in the body often feel their leadership calls upon them to make discerning commentary, but if they have been very blessed in a situation themselves, they may lack the wisdom to judge the case of the dispossessed correctly. How shall the one who is full counsel the empty? Does a king have much patience with beggars' quarrels? Does the athlete walk well with the cripple? So too, if we do not seek real empathy in the Holy Spirit before opening our big mouths, may well fail our injured brothers and sisters in Christ.

Too many of those blessed not to see the worst spiritual battles have the sad tendency to presume those who HAVE faced them are entirely to blame for the trials in their lives. Its judgmental, its unhelpful (as even when it is true Jesus would still like to see His stumbling sheep rescued) and its utterly unloving. Yes, hurt sheep can be angry. Yes, klutzy sheep can get injured. Doesn't always mean it was their fault entirely that they got where they are. Determining blame doesn't make the problem go away either, unless you send the person away with it. That is exactly what the poor and needy fear when they hear it, often with good cause.

We are supposed to be concerned with binding up those wounds, being a friend, being a good neighbor (even if they do dislike us, as Samaritans)

It isn't a given we will receive real friendship back by choosing to be one, but its the only way to be God's.

...There Are Plenty of Good Fish in the Sea

This blog is inspired by a meditation series on friendship on another blog. I've been finding myself reading along nodding my head until I hit something else that makes me go "Hey, wait a minute!"

I think it is better now to express my thoughts as a statement of my own instead of just responding to her words. Nevertheless, you may as well see what got me going...

Some people are displeased that they don't seem to have "real" friends. However, often these same people do not show themselves to be friendly. It's not that they're angry all the time, or hard to get along with, but perhaps they just don't take any steps out of their normal path. Without these steps, it is very difficult to make 'real' friends.

I've seen it countless times over the years. People will become part of a church and become upset over time that nobody seemed to ever ask them over, or out to eat. Sure, they'd wave and smile at them or have small conversation, but it never got deep. Often, one must show themselves to be a friend that steps out in order to have friendships

(btw, I do appreciate the improvement you've made in this section. Hopefully my reply will be equally improved!)

This dear lady seems to be very blessed within her church group in finding friends and this is wonderful to hear --until you get to the bit where she says she's found that often the very ones who say they can't find friends are not themselves friendly enough. There is some truth to this & scripture will bear her out.

Proverbs 18:24 A man that hath friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.
It seems to me that you are still saying, very nicely, that if people can't find good friends at church its pretty much their own fault. I have definitely seen the shoe on the other foot.

In fact, I've seen this countless times over the years too. A family goes to a church and tries to be friendly. They feel shy, of course. The usher shakes their hand, and he's done. The folks sitting next to them may say hello but they are anxious to catch up the news with the good friends they already have with the pew in front of them. The family may dress differently. (some churches are a bit stiff with those who dress casually in a dressy church, or dressy in a casual church, or barely meet code because its obvious they don't have many choices.) They may be a bit poor. They may have come because they are logical people & figured they'd ask other real Christians about the questions raised in their minds after reading Dan Brown or Leakey's latest. There will be no room for this.

[& If they ask without extreme diplomacy the word is just likely to go round that 'we have heretics visiting'... My husband tripped that line once. He wasn't fully saved then and he wanted to talk to a pastor about how do you know if you are saved? (He was raised Mormon/agnostic) & even though he was wanting to be sure he was right with Christ, he had some questions about the faith as understood by Evangelicals. As my beloved has the directness of a freight train, I urged him to take it up only with the Pastor, who should be trained to answer. (I'd already tried, but he wanted to see if other believers were as serious about Jesus as I am.) The pastor ducked the first questions, said he had a lunch engagement, and told him to make an appointment. Hubby didn't bother, but I did eventually talk him into trying the church again. The next time he turned up this clown railed on about 'sorcerers' and 'heretics' and kept looking at him. Later that pastor was run out after covering for a young relative who had been caught using illicit substances. That young man had run his youth ministry. 'Struth! Nevertheless, the church had some real substance to it. Thankfully, my hubby did get his questions answered and did make the fuller commitment -elsewhere. Eventually the church recovered from their worst problems too, but we did not return.]

Conversely, the poor and needy can hang around and smile, and the friendlier ones will smile back, but breaking in to any of the social circles can be easily as tough as it is in any non-Church setting. Think about quilting & knitting circles in your area. People cozy up over time to those who appeal to them on a fleshly level. They want friends who are FUN, who have kids the same age, who work at the same place, who are peers in some way, who do not pose a danger of draining their resources or involving them in 'situations.' The most desired are the talented/rich/ influential ones. This is perfectly human. Its a cool thingy to be able to call those in positions of authority "friend!" Raises your own stock if they all you "friend" back, does it not?

Conversely, the poor and injured have a much harder time getting fully accepted. The very poor have a hard time keeping the car going & gas in it. They can't afford every new whimsy of 'let's all make this pattern next week,' 'let's all get matching sweaters' or let's all meet at the new restaurant next time!

Proverbs 14:20 The poor is hated even by his own neighbor: but the rich hath many friends.

Frankly, I have often seen these 'little extras' used precisely to weed out those whose participation was less desirable. Its one way a publicly open group can be quickly whittled down to the more fortunate. Of COURSE you can go, Cinderella, as long as you have a suitable dress...

I have rarely seen a church clumped up under Holy Spirit categories. This means that all the outside reasons people get dumped in the world are present in the Body too...everything from stinky breath & ragged jeans to ugly words passed along sotto voce.

On one level, it would be odd if it were not so. Believers are being transformed out of their worldliness one day at a time. Everybody is on a different 'day.'

Watchman Nee once described Christianity as one beggar telling another where to find bread. We are a hungry people, learning to be fed by Christ. I have also heard the Body of Christ on Earth likened to a hospital. Would we could all leave our fleshly diseases at the door! But we cannot, so we come into the presence of Christ that we may be cleansed and healed. We arrive oozing our issues.

But encountering the same fleshly behavior that turned them from the world inside the Church has made many un-churched & semi-believers decidedly touchy... Its not always that they never reached out, its what they got when they did!

The modern churches get- to- know- you programs are usually limited to those fill out postcards. Most of the introductions will be of the social did-they-mean-it? variety-- the kind where the well dressed 'insider' says "Hello, I am ___. You are? (answer) Well, thank you for coming. We're so GLAD to have you here with us today!" and then moves on. Go ahead! Ask her to eat out with you...

I saw one obviously poor family try and you never saw anyone turn their back so quickly. Best friend of the preacher's wife too --they left...

Well, maybe you can invite her over, if you feel your house & food will be up to her standards. Maybe later...okay, don't know us yet. It just seems like its impossible to really talk to people around the official meetings at church...

Oh, we have women's study group..come to that and we'll get to know you (on our terms.) Okay, so go. Make the effort! It may be wonderful!

But when it isn't..... you will be standing or sitting near their happy little group waiting for a turn to make you voice known. Oh yeah, you may have read the Bible since you were toddler, but don't expect to be regarded as a full believer, let alone a mature one, unless you came in wearing a title --after all, you are new to this church & you might be a heretic. Okay, submit to local authority with good grace. D here is in charge of the group and she has the study plan. Didn't you get one? Its only 7.00 group rate!... We're going to stay on topic during the session (um..wasn't this why we came, so we could actually talk as Christians?) but we girls can chat at the cafe afterward...its got the cutest little hors d’Ĺ“uvres.... You can't stay, the baby is sick/can't afford it either...oh that's just too bad... Maybe next time.

Hehe, Nancy has the cutest little puppy, don't you know? No, you don't know. Maybe she'll show it to you...*sigh* sure, if I stick around five years she might bring a photo in one day.

I have seen the blessed sheep with their church group intact tell people that they have plenty of friends now, thanks -find someone else...just like that.

There must be plenty of good fish in the sea...right?

And you've just been tossed back to go find them. Swim, away fishy!

Most believers don't regard it as their charge to seek out the injured sheep. I have tried but the injured ARE injured. Hurting people are often not as much fun to play with. Some have had someone try to 'pose' next to them. Some figure if you are relating to them you must be a loser too and will dump you if they finally get inside one of the 'in crowds.' Then too there are the days when they may turn on you because you accidentally brushed up against that sore spot.

And, actually --everyone is like that on some level -- including you, including me.

I am so very glad I have been in other situations, places where I fit in, places where I was appreciated...or the bad ones would have undermined my faith in my own ability to be accepted - to be a friend.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007


More piccies. This time from an afternoon at Beaverdam

(Click the thumbnails if you wish to see the full-sized pictures)

Beaverdam is just a pond built up into a reservoir. This county park was opened about ten years ago. It consists of a picnic area, a small playground which unfortunately has those spike horse chestnuts all around it, short pier, small boat launch, and a fair number of ducks, geese, and seagulls.

(You can click the thumbnails above to see the full-sized images)

It was a fairly windy when we were there. This little flotilla of ducklings never came to shore all afternoon. It was kinda cute to watch them bobbing along on the waves

Monday, April 23, 2007

Park perks

The weather has been absolutely glorious of late, and the trees have gone from just budding out to full spring regalia! Becka has taken a lot of pictures lately. Tom has gotten the batteries ready on the film cameras so he and Mom can chip in too. Right now I don't have a quality personal camera, so I just borrow one of theirs when the mood strikes. Downside is--later on I have trouble telling which ones are mine. Hah! I'll put links up to a few at a time so you can enjoy some of our best shots from the various outings. All the first ones will be from Becka's camera since hers is digital (no processing/scanning time delays)

(Clickee for the full-sized images :))

we've been out enjoying the sunshine as often as possible. This year Tom & Mom get to shepherd us into the National Parks as they qualify for the inexpensive pass cards. I used to just buy it but they've changed the system. On the plus side you can go into many more public lands, but they've nearly doubled the price of the regular pass so its good we can get the other ones! Washington's tent is back at Yorktown, finally repaired. Many of the small cannons, muskets, flags, buttons etc seemed to have left. Perhaps they are on loan or being refurbished. I guess I'll ask next time we wander inside the interpretive center. We're staying stocked on picnic supplies, batteries, & bottles of water!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

A Tribute to Lauren Ashley McCain

I didn't realize Lauren was one of us. Just realized after reading this that we probably did see her in some of the local homeschooling group events in the area. If she was who I think she was, this tribute is just. That teenager was a total sweetheart who loved Jesus. I remember gratefully a young lady in her VA Beach sweatshirt who rescued my then toddler son from some PS kids who had shoved him aside to better their place in line at a treat table at one of our rare 'open' functions. (I was at the pinata station) She got through to them without raising her voice & reassured my little son with a grace that was a joy to see. Thanks to her rapid intervention the incident remained small and soon forgotten, even by my DS. God bless you, Lauren. Heaven is the richer and we the poorer for your absence. Til we meet at the table...


Forwarded from Homeschool Hotlines (in Va)

A Tribute to Lauren Ashley McCain

HEAV Update
April 21, 2007

All week I've tried to write something, anything, but the words
wouldn't come. This was also the week of the one-year anniversary of my mom's unexpected passing.

Others have had much to say, thoughts to share, a Day of Mourning to
proclaim, an analysis to make. This has been a tragic week.

And the homeschool community is not unaffected.

Lauren Ashley McCain, a 20-year-old homeschool graduate and the daughter of Dave and Sherry McCain of Hampton, was lost to us this week. Lauren, a freshman at Virginia Tech, was majoring in International Studies.

I've read Lauren's blog, I've read her obituary. I've read what others have had to say about her online. I've read the thoughts and prayers of her family and friends--their pleas on Monday--while there was hope--for her to call home.

Two years ago at the HEAV commencement, I called her name and watched as she received her high school diploma from her parents.

One thing is clear: Lauren loved the Lord Jesus. Her life was a testimony to Him.

She wrote in her blog: "The purpose and love of my life is Jesus Christ. I don't have to argue religion, philosophy, or historical evidence because I KNOW Him. He is just as real, if not more so, as my 'earthly' father."

In her graduation biography she proclaimed, "God is my passion ... I want to glorify Christ and encourage others to do the same."

She played for the BEACH Breakers girls' soccer team. She was Coach Leslie Carmichael's center fullback for the school years 2003, 2004, and 2005.

Coach Karen Macri said, "Lauren was a vibrant believer; no one who knew her could have doubted her love for the Lord."

Department Head Kellie Kessler wrote, "She was a very sweet girl and had a good relationship with her Jesus. She was always so wonderful to have on the team and just a joy to everyone."

Brenda Hardison summed it up so well when she wrote,

"All who knew Lauren in the homeschool community loved her dearly and mourn her death; but we rejoice that she is with her Lord, who filled her short life with such profound purpose and meaning. Our deepest condolences and prayers go out to the McCain family for peace and comfort in the coming days."

Amen and Amen.

Our thoughts and prayers are with you McCain family, as they are with all the families who have suffered grievous losses this week. We look with you to the day spoken of by John in Revelation when God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain. Ahhh...what a glorious day that will be.

In His love,

Anne Miller
HEAV President

~:~ ~:~ ~:~ ~:~ ~:~ ~:~ ~:~ ~:~

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Restoration Church to go towards her brother and sister's college education, and to help fulfill Lauren's desire to fund an International Studies student at Virginia Tech.

Send to:
The McCain Family
c/o Restoration Church
508 Fox Hill Road
Hampton, VA 23669

~:~ ~:~ ~:~ ~:~ ~:~ ~:~ ~:~ ~:~


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

An Ill Wind...

"That's an ill wind that blows no one any good" ~ That was all I could think when I heard what happened.

Those of you who know me, know I am a Virginian so let me start by saying that my family is fine. My daughter hasn't gone to college yet and was nowhere near the tragedy at VA Tech. The storm left us alone aside from a few brief power outages. All we got out of it was a need to eat up the ice cream - not exactly onerous duty. Although the college is a quite popular one in our area, no one we knew well had a child up there this year, and no houses were damaged here by the storm.

It is still pretty sad stuff though. Folks in New England & New York, Kentucky & a number of other places have now seen weather that is at least as bad as any tropical system. The winds were gale force near Blacksburg when the shooter began - which compounded the tragedy when rescuers realized that Nightingale flights were out of the question. Listened to some of the stories of the victims and the survivors. It was impossible not to cry. So senseless.

Just read that one person who has been on machines for a year has been taken off the transplant list thanks to the generosity of one of those who perished in the shootings.

Well, okay, someone got something good out of it.

May God bless these beloved departed to rest in His peace.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Nice day w/ chance of frogs

Its a nice day again. They call for two days in the 70's then ...baddabbooomm..another storm which might be heavy rain, might be snow, might be nothing at all. Doesn't really bother me. I've lived with some kind of uncertainty all my life & learned to trust Christ for it. The frogs are happy already. I imagine they'll be ecstatic to get another of those mini-monsoons this area is prone toward receiving. It always nice to know that a good storm in the near future will ensure a higher amphibious population (and so reduce mosquitoes considerably!)

Tom is away getting his inspection done on his happy jeep. Its great his bud was able to fix the problem that sidelined it after that tropical system. Turned out most of it wasn't from the river/bay water washing up under it but from someone's attempt to break into it.

He even found those daffodils for his Mom for Easter. She found these special semi-wild ones many years ago in the woods & relocated a few to her own flower patch. She wanted them from the yard here when she moved over to her new house, but the bulbs we dug up for her didn't grow. The only ones that did bloom weren't the type she wanted. Every year since, when he has had time & sufficient health, he has looked for her special gone-wild daffodils in the woods. This year we are quite sure he has succeeded. I sure hope they bring her joy!

I've been looking up what policies & prices the area parks & museums have set, as just about everything comes up for renewal at this time of year. Some have gotten better and some much worse. Weirdest policy thus far was one Mariner's Museum had for some years - they had a 'yearly pass' for a family that was below their regular membership level --a good deal IF you could bring everyone in the house there at once when you bought the ticket. They literally wouldn't sell it to you otherwise. Tom was working out of town much of the time, so this was a major inconvenience. He's home now, of course, but wouldn't have been well enough to walk through their enormous museum the last couple of years (some buildings house entire full-sized vessels, from tugboats, ferries, & gondolas to coracles & bark canoes). Now that he is both here AND can walk a bit I can't find it listed. I'll have to find out in person if they have discontinued it or what. They've just added a truly major exhibit, the Civil War era ship Monitor, and may feel they can't afford to have any 'good deals' on admission now. May just wait and go with a group or on a free day. There are usually a few announced in the year. The best deals & biggest events are in Williamsburg/Jamestown this year & that is where I am likely to concentrate my efforts.

The Queen IS coming, just not the week they most wanted her to be here. Apparently she is timing her visit to see a major horse race as well. Reminds me of My Fair Lady ~ "'if the duke and earl and peer is here, and the one-who-should-be-here is here, what a smashing absolutely dashing spectacle the Ascot opening day" lol

Obviously the English aristocracy still love their horsies, but what amuses me most is the local commission's tendency to focus on European, Hollywood, & political notables to sell their events when what is being celebrated is the beginning of a very different way of life - one where everyone mattered. They don't seem to remember that our country deliberately did away with aristocratic titles. We could have had them. We already did have a few & some place names here still remember those days. George Washington chose NOT to be king. He was offered the title by our congress with the blessing of the people, but he felt it would -in time -betray all they had worked and fought for if we reproduced the class system of Europe on America's shores.

Something to think on as we wander on off to the park again. The kids did their testing on an earlier date because Tom was supposed to be having that last surgery soon, but he wasn't approved for it yet. Worried me no end for a week or two but Tom is doing much better now so I am breathing in the relief. May as well enjoy the grace we've been given in this good weather

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter!

May you and all your Dear Ones be greatly blessed today! We're just going to have a quiet day at home. The sun is shining. Its a lovely day with no hint of that beautiful dusting of snow we had yesterday morning. The flowers bloom again. The trees wave their budding branches in the light, chilly breeze below the perfect, bright blue sky. Our lamb roast is done & waiting, but because of the savory roast everyone has already gotten into their treats. I should tend to the couscous & set in the cobbler so it will be done by the time we've eaten dinner. Gotta go!

Here is our Easter card for you. (click the thumbnail below)

He is Risen!


Monday, April 02, 2007

Vacation fun

Susan, your vacation salvation is to Spend Time with Loved Ones

Between work and everyone's hectic schedules, it might feel like you have to reintroduce yourself to your family before your vacation begins. In fact, many families find that vacations are one of the few times during the year when they truly bond with one another.

Whether it's a trip to the beach or an urban adventure, the only thing that matters is that you're experiencing something new together. And for a big-hearted soul like you, that's the greatest reward of a vacation — having fun, creating memories, and really getting to know the people you love.


Susan, your Hawaiian Island match is Lanai


Susan, you're a Cultural Traveler

See the world. Meet new people. For you, traveling is an unparalleled chance to see what makes the rest of the world tick. Curious and social, you get just as big a kick from chatting up locals as you do from visiting historic sites.

Different people, cultures, and landscapes help you appreciate what you have and also see the world from someone else's eyes. It's a learning experience you're after, so whether you find that in museums, ruins, or local markets, you're sure to come away with a new view or idea. Take it all in!


Susan, your Taste for Culture gives you your Lone Star style

Sophisticated and smart, it's no surprise that a culture vulture like you is always after the newest hotspots. Your curious nature makes you a perfect match for a cultural holiday locale like the Lone Star State. After all, an inquisitive pardner like you knows vacations are best spent trying exotic foods, meeting interesting people, and having as many fresh experiences as possible.

Discerning and tasteful, you take advantage of everything your surroundings offer, whether you're admiring works of art in a museum, checking out local bands at a club, or visiting historical sites. Your sharp and active mind is always on the lookout for something new to learn and enjoy. Broaden your horizons? You always do!

Make sure your next vacation is as interesting as you are: Pick a destination with great people, entertainment, and cuisine. Click here and find out just how flavorful Texas can be.